Where were you?

Seems like everyone remembers.

While I don’t remember where I was the day JFK was assassinated, I do remember watching the funeral on TV with my dad and being completely terrified of the flag-draped coffin pulled on the caisson. The memory of that feeling has stayed with me my whole life.

I remember exactly where I was standing and what I was doing when John Lennon was shot. Another indelible memory/feeling.

On this day in 2001, I was at school on a beautiful, sunny morning. I had just left the office and was on my way back to my classroom at the beginning of 2nd period, when the band director met me in the hallway and said, “I’m not sure what’s going on, but I just heard that someone bombed the Pentagon.” From there, it all went south.

I didn’t have a television in my room, and since 2nd period was my prep, I decided to walk down the middle school hallway and see what was going on. I ended up in the history teacher’s room, where his class sat in silence, watching. When I left at 9:30, it was chaos. When I returned at 10:30, just in time to watch the second tower fall, it was all too clear. It was Pearl Harbor all over again.

Where were you?

8 thoughts on “Where were you?

  1. BoomR

    I was driving to work when plane #1 hit. My spouse at the time called me just as I was pulling into the Nokia parking lot in Irving, TX and was almost hysterical. I hurried into the building & up to one of the conference rooms that had a TV set. There were already others gathering & watching that damage already done by plane 1, when here comes plane #2… I was just sick to my stomach.

    From my cube at Nokia, I have a great view towards the north entrance to DFW International Airport. On any OTHER day, one can see planes of all shapes & sizes making their final approach about every 20-30 seconds. By noon, there wasn’t a plane in the sky….it was one of the most eerie sights NOT having a sky full of planes…

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I can imagine how bizarre it looked. Did you watch coverage all evening when you got home, too? We did. I remember getting angrier and angrier as the day went on, asking all kinds of questions — the most repeated one being, “How could we have gotten so incredibly careless as to let something like this happen?” Then, as the days wore on and I found out how easily these demons pulled off their murder, “careless” turned to “arrogant,” and I was truly honked, as well as sickened and sad. Ugh. Terrible memories, even 10 years hence.

  2. PKPudlin

    I had arrived for my Tuesday morning voice lesson – first year of grad school. My teacher met me in the hall and said, ‘Somebody flew a plane into a building in NY’. I scoffed, thinking, ‘What an idiot!’, but we sat in her room listening to the radio as it all unfolded. I emerged still not completely clear on what was going on. Classes were cancelled so I went home, still unsure. We didn’t have a TV, and had some errands to run so hubby and I went to the mall, which was completely deserted. I saw and bought a newspaper that showed the WTC towers on fire (still have it!). We stood and watched a TV at one of the electronic stores, and little by little I began to understand the enormity of what had happened. That afternoon and evening it was all over the internet of course, so I learned about the Pentagon and the plane in PA as well as the WTC towers.

    At the time I made my living doing medical transcription, and the hospital I typed for was in New York city – these docs had watched it happen outside the nursery windows. That evening as I typed their notes, I noted that every one of them was dictating in some sort of unbelieving fog.

    Friends in NJ and NYC spoke of businessmen stuck in the city because all the trains were shut down. They walked all the way home, arriving in the wee hours of 9/12. Traffic in and out was completely shut down.

    My own feelings were initial confusion, disbelief, and anger, but the real confusion and anger started later, when the government reactions didn’t seem to match the enormity of the event, except to harrass US citizens with travelling regulations, etc. If we were so sure it was bin Laden, why were we invading Iraq and going after Hussein? The ‘investigations’ and ‘conclusions’ that followed didn’t add up – kind of like the Kennedy assassination ‘conclusions’. Now in the wake of 9/11 I don’t trust my government as my parents did; I believe the government is capable of heinous things and I believe it doesn’t have the scruples it once had. 9/11 has opened an entire can of worms and has made me very suspicious; my role at this point is observer.

    *puts away soapbox*


    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I can’t imagine walking all the way from Manhattan to NJ. It was such a confusing time…nobody knew what to do because nothing like this had ever happened before.

      I mean, I don’t want to diminish what happened in 1941, but that was before the media could jump on an event immediately and show it to everyone in their homes in an instant. Hawaii wasn’t even a state. I’m sure it was a shock to everyone, but for many, it was a world away. The consequences, however, were the same, unfortunately.

      There is no way I trust gov’t the same way my folks did. When we were (little) kids, everyone trusted Washington to do right by us. Then the sixties happened…

      Thanks for sharing your interesting view on the day. I think of all of us who post here, you were physically the closest to it.

  3. Meg's Mom

    I was teaching a group of jr. high students when a colleague came to my room to say the first tower had been hit. I didn’t think much of it until the second tower was hit. In my mind, the 1st hit could have been a horrible accident. The 2nd hit was something intentional and horrendous. We turned on the television and watched the live coverage for some time. I particularly remember watching either Tom Brokaw or Peter Jennings. The live view of the towers was showing behind him as he spoke. As the 1st tower fell, he continued to talk…not about the falling tower but about what he knew about the hits. We were literally watching the tower fall before the news commentator even realized it was happening.

    I remember spending that evening glued to the television and talking on the phone to our children who were both away at college at the time. I remember, as well, almost being afraid to go to bed that night fearing what other disasters might occur before morning. This was followed by days of fear, confusion, and prayer, the eeriness of planeless skies, and wondering if we would ever feel safe again.

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      “…wondering if we would ever feel safe again.” And truly, I haven’t. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have a dozen sleepless nights before leaving on the last three choir tours to NYC.

      It was surreal, that day at school, wasn’t it? Remember how people poured into the elementary school office to pick up their kids? For many of them, they just wanted to have them near while they watched events unfold on TV. Can’t say I blamed them.

      I remember Peter Jennings getting choked up on camera, talking about it all, right after the Shanksville crash. Even the most grizzled, experienced journalists, who had seen it all in Viet Nam and Mogadishu and Lebanon, struggled. It was a horrifying sight.

  4. Hannah K.

    I was in Kindergarten at the time….
    I didn’t actually see the attack but I remember that night we were eating Cameo pizza in our living room of our trailer and watching it on T.V. It was a weird thing as a 6 year old to see happen…. I kind of wish that I was older when it happened because I feel like I have no idea what people are talking about when they talk about it….

    1. Rat Fink Post author

      I sort of feel that way when listening to folks talk about the Kennedy assassination, Hannah. Wish I’d understood more. I just hope you never have to feel the way the older people felt on 9/11/01. It’s something that stays stuck in your soul for a long, long time.


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